Honoring their son’s legacy and helping others

It wasn’t until two months after he was born that Lewis A. Affetto, Jr.’s parents learned their son had been born with a congenital heart defect.

“The doctors told us he should have died at birth and would probably not make it to his first birthday,” recalled Dolly Affetto, Lewis’s mother.

(L-R) Dr. David Roberson, pediatric cardiologist, with Dolly and Lewis Affetto, Sr.

When he was 10 months old, Lewis Jr. underwent his first surgery, a pulmonary shunt. “As a parent, there’s nothing scarier than your baby undergoing a major surgery, but we knew he was in good hands,” said Dolly. His second surgery was just before he turned 5, followed by another when he was 11. At 17, he had a valve replacement at what is now Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn, then an ablation five years later.

After high school, he enrolled in Columbia College in Chicago to pursue his passion: computer graphics and animation. He dreamed of becoming an animator.

Sadly, just one year after he graduated from college, Lewis passed away. He was 24 years old.

Honoring his memory

Wanting to continue their son’s legacy, Dolly and Lewis Sr. created the Lewis A. Affetto, Jr. Foundation. The foundation awards scholarships to graduating seniors – continuing their education in the arts. Through the foundation, Dolly and Lewis also created the Lewis A. Affetto, Jr. Fund for Hope, which supports patients, families and programs at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

Since 2017, the fund has provided thousands of dollars in financial assistance to families, including:

  • $4,500 in gas cards
  • $3,750 in grocery cards
  • More than $3,000 in vehicle repair bills
  • More than $12,000 in rent and mortgage assistance

The fund also provides support for continuing education for clinicians, resources for programs aimed at improving the lives of those with congenital heart disease, and comfort items for families with a child in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit.

“No family should have to worry about how to pay their bills when their child is critically ill,” said Dolly. “We are so glad that Lewis’s legacy of hope, determination and kindness will live on and help patients and their families for years to come.”

How you can help

If you’d like to support patients, families and programs at Advocate Children’s Heart Institute through the Lewis A. Affetto, Jr. Fund for Hope, please contact Jackie Pufundt at 630-929-6931 or

We are so grateful for your support and for the continuing generosity of the Affetto family.